Know thy enemy – Pitso
North African sides have little mystery to them, insists Sundowns’ Mosimane
PITSO MO-SIMANE does not expect Wydad Casablanca to get overly exited by Mamelodi Sundowns’ poor home record in the Caf Champions League group stages.
Winless in all three of their games at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, Sundowns will host the Moroccans over the weekend of September 8-10 in the quarter-final, first leg, of the continent’s premier club knockout competition.
The unimpressive record (two draws and a defeat) notwithstanding, the coach of the defending champions does not anticipate Wydad to come to Atteridgeville looking to kill the match off as a contest with a resounding victory.
“Possibly (they may fancy their chances of winning). But will Wydad change the way they play because of Sundowns’ poor form?” Mosimane,
pictured, wondered aloud during the post match conference of his team’s 1-1 draw with AS Vita on Sunday night.
“Now, you change the whole thing that has made you go to the semi-final of the Champions League last year and you are now in the quarter-finals. What if it backfires?
“You’ve got to be very careful.
“Not many coaches can just wake up in the morning and change, because it is risky. Maybe in high school football you can do that but not at Champions League level.”
And so it is a familiar foe Mosimane is expecting when the two teams meet in two months’ time.
“I’ve seen Wydad playing away in Zambia. I saw Wydad at Asec and I saw them lose 2-0 at Al Ahly. I know what their mentality is.
“They don’t love to play away, so they try to keep you at 0-0 because they know that at home they’ll score one, maybe from a free kick.
“So, you have to play in their faces and be tight on them because they are combination players, not big on individual skills.”
Having previously gotten the better of other north African teams, Mosimane is confident Sundowns can overcome Wydad.
“The north African teams – the big boys – Wydad, Usma, Zamalek, Al Ahly, Esperance, Etoile, they all play almost the same way. The mentality is the same and the aggression is the same.
“They are dangerous on set pieces and are generally very organised teams who rely lots of combination plays.”
He believes he has them figured out.
“They are always out there trying to annoy you by falling for a penalty or getting you booked, they go to the referees to complain or kick the ball out of play.
“I’ve taught my boys to understand these things and deal with it.”
He pointed to his team’s results against ES Setif, Zamalek and Esperance as proof Sundowns have the north Africans figured out. Still, he says there’s no set formula.
“We know we have to try and kill them here. But there’s no formula and I know we can draw here and go and win away. We know how to play them away … Keep them at 0-0 for a long time.
“We did it at Setif; Zamalek twice and Esperance, no issues because there’s really no difference between all those teams.”